The right to happiness in AfricaPosted: 13 July, 2016 Filed under: Saul Leal | Tags: Africa, apartheid, Christopher Mbazira, colonialism, constitution, David Bilchitz, economic development, Egypt, employment, Frederick Fourie, freedom, Ghana, Justice Albie Sachs, Leopold Sadar Senghor, Liberia, liberty, Namibia, Nigeria, racism, right to happiness, right to life, safety, security, South Africa, Steve Biko, Stu Woolan, Swaziland 3 Comments
Author: Saul Leal
Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)
Leopold Sedar Senghor said: emotion is African. This emotion has been channeled to constitutions. Happiness is a core value in many African constitutions. It was explicitly mentioned in Liberia, Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Swaziland, and Egypt.
Article 1 of the Constitution of Liberia, 1986, proclaims that all free governments are instituted by the people’s authority, for their benefit, and they have the right to alter and reform it when their safety and ‘happiness’ require it. The preamble of the Egyptian Constitution, 2014, cites ‘a place of common happiness for its people’. The Namibian Constitution, 1990, assures the right ‘to the pursuit of happiness’. In this regard, Frederick Fourie defends the preamble of the Namibian Constitution, explaining that it is coloured by the struggle against colonialism and racism; that it is built around the denial of the ‘right of the individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ by colonialism, racism and apartheid.
No woman should die while giving life: Maternal mortality – the unfinished business of the MDG eraPosted: 21 July, 2015 Filed under: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn | Tags: abortion, access to education, Beijing Platform of Action, birth, CEDAW, childbearing, death, discrimination, family, family planning, fertility, health, marriage, maternal death, maternal health, maternal mortality, pregnancy, right to life, sexual and reproductive health rights, women's rights 2 Comments
Author: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn
Human rights lawyer, Ethiopia
Maternal mortality is one of the shocking failures of development and a dreadful social injustice. According to recent UN official figures, 536,000 women die every year during pregnancy and birth. This is one death every minute. Out of the 536,000 maternal deaths, 99% are experienced by women in developing countries. The highest maternal mortality rates are in Africa; with a lifetime risk of 1 in 16. Maternal death is often the result of policy decisions that directly or indirectly discriminate against women. Maternal death is also often an indication of inequalities between men and women in their enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Below I illustrate how other rights are either implicated by or essential in combating maternal mortality.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Call for an African Union resolution on the use of drones in AfricaPosted: 5 August, 2013 Filed under: Benjamin Ng’aru | Tags: Africa, African Charter, African Union, Al-Qaeda, Ben Emmerson QC, CIA, CIA's angry birds, constitutive act, Djibouti, drone strikes, Ethiopia, extra-judicial killings, Glomar response, human rights, Human Rights Watch, humanitarian law, International Court of Justice, international human rights, international law, right to fair trial, right to life, right to privacy, Seychelles, Somalia, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, United States of America, unmanned aerial vehicles 4 Comments
Author: Benjamin Ng’aru
Legal Assistant, Local Authorities Pensions Trust; Volunteer Programmes Assistant, Legal Exchange Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
On 15 March 2013 Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the United States (US) Court of Appeals Circuit in American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) dismissed the CIA’s standard Glomar response to its expanded and clandestine programme to carry out targeted killings on suspected terrorist. Barely two months later, a High Court in Peshawar, Pakistan, held that drone strikes (and their continued use) “are a blatant violation of Basic Human Rights and are against the [United Nations] (UN) Charter, the UN General Assembly Resolution …and a violation of the sovereignty [of Pakistan]”. Whereas not fully specific on the human rights instruments violated, these judicial pronouncements point to an increasing dissatisfaction by the international community on the lack of a concise and regulated use of the “CIA’s angry birds”.
This note seeks to merely highlight possible violations of various rights including the right to life, right to fair trial as well as the right to privacy, which are all enshrined in the African Charter; and call upon the African Union (AU), through its various organs, to promote more transparency on the use of drones and foster the enactment of a continental regulatory framework to govern the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by western nations on African soil.
The use of drones in African’s airspace has been on a steep rise. The latest documented incident was on 27 May 2013 when Al-Shabaab allegedly shot down a UAS Camcopter S-100 near the town of Buulo Mareer, southern Somalia. The London based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that over 200 persons, mostly non-combatants, have been killed by drone strikes in Somalia since 2003. American drone support bases have been reportedly set up in Arba Minch (Ethiopia), Seychelles, Camp Lemonnier (Djibouti) and recently in Somali’s shell-crated international airport in Mogadishu. A 2012 study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law indicated that there were more civilians and innocent residents killed in the drone strikes than militants throughout the period of the drone program.
The Death Penalty and the Right to Life in the Draft Constitutions of Zambia and ZimbabwePosted: 18 April, 2013 Filed under: Andrew Novak | Tags: burden of proof, constitution, death penalty, extenuating circumstances, India, right to life, South Africa, United States of America, Zambia, Zimbabwe Leave a comment
Author: Andrew Novak
Adjunct Professor of African Law, American University Washington College of Law and incoming Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society, George Mason University
On 16 March 2013, Zimbabwean voters overwhelmingly ratified a new constitution, which contains a right to life provision that dramatically scaled back the scope of the death penalty. The new constitution restricts the death penalty only to aggravated homicide and requires a judge to consider all mitigating factors in order to dispense a death sentence. The death penalty is a prohibited sentence for women and persons under the age 21 or over the age 70. The new constitution also establishes a constitutional right for prisoners to seek commutation or pardon from the executive. The death penalty was abolished for non-homicide offences, including treason, a notoriously politicised charge in recent years. Newspaper reports indicated that the Cabinet would review the cases of each of the current 72 death row inmates, even though a new hangman was hired in February 2013 after a twelve-year long search. The two women on death row would have their sentences automatically commuted.
The right to life in Africa: General Comment No. 3 on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ RightsPosted: 10 February, 2016 | Author: AfricLaw | Filed under: Paul Ogendi | Tags: 57th Ordinary Session, abolition, Africa, African, African Charter, African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Commission, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, albinos, customary international law, death penalty, dignified life, General Comment, IHL, international human rights law, non-discriminatio, poverty, protection of the right to life, Resolution 263, Resolution 275, right to life, sexual minoroties, use of force | 3 Comments
Author: Paul Ogendi
Researcher, Working Group on death penalty and extrajudicial summary or arbitrary killings in Africa, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
During its 57th Ordinary Session held from 4 to 18 November 2015 in Banjul, The Gambia, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) adopted General Comment No. 3 on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (General Comment No. 3) focusing on the right to life.
The document is timely because the protection of the right to life is currently under threat globally. Africa is no exception.
The Commission in 2012 expanded the work of one of its working groups focusing on the right to life to include not just death penalty but also extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings in Africa.
Some of the salient features of the new General Comment are discussed below.
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